You think some of today’s shows are strange? Friend of the blog and writer extraordinaire, Lee Goldberg once wrote a book listing unsold TV pilots. These are just from 1955-1990 and are not complete (two of our misfires somehow managed to fly under the radar). But some of these are priceless. These are actual projects. Writers pitched them with a straight face and sold them. Scripts were commissioned and then networks said, "Sure, we'll shell out millions of dollar to make these". Can you imagine what didn't get picked up? Anyway, with the new development season about to begin, let's go back and relive past gems.
DANGER TEAM ABC-1990 – Kathleen Beller plays a bookkeeper-turned-private eye who solves crimes with the help of three animated clay figures. (Whatever happened to Kathleen Beller (pictured above)? She was soooo hot.)
GOOD AGAINST EVIL ABC-1977 -- Dack Rambo is a writer who happens to fall in love with Satan’s girlfriend. (Don't you hate it when that happens?)
HIGH RISK ABC-1976 -- Six former circus performers team up to solve crimes. (A better title might have been JUSTICE DU SOLEIL. Notice how many of these delightful dramas were developed by ABC?)
JUDGE DEE ABC-1974 -- Khigh Dhiegh is a roving judge in seventh century China, deciding right and wrong and solving crimes. (We had an idea for a show but it was set in the eighth century and no one wants that era.)
McCLONE NBC-1988 – Master thespian, Howie Long is pursued by evil clones.
MOMMA THE DETECTIVE CBS-1981 – Esther Rolle (from GOOD TIMES) as a maid who solves crimes.
NICK KNIGHT CBS-1989 – I bet we see a new version of this in like five minutes. Rick Springfield is a crimefighting vampire on the San Francisco police force.
HURRICANE ISLAND & STRANDED – two of the many “people are shipwrecked on a remote island” pilots. But none of them had the hatch.
ETHEL IS AN ELEPHANT CBS-1980 -- A New York photographer who shares his apartment with a baby elephant.
GREAT DAY ABC-1977 -- As described: “This pilot was supposed to illustrate how fun life is as a skid row bum in New York’s bowery.” Featured in the cast: Billy Barty and Spo-De-Odee.
A LITTLE BIT STRANGE NBC-1989 – A widower raising a bizarre family. He and his son are warlocks, his daughter is a witch, his mother-in-law is psychic, his brother a soul-singing bat (yes, a bat), and his nephew is made of mud. A “normal” girl marries into this family.
MARS: BASE ONE CBS-1988 -- A family adjusting to life on Mars, where they live next door to a Soviet technician and his American-stripper wife. (Note: the 1988 WGA strike forced cancellation of this project. I think part of the problem was that they wanted to shoot on location.)
MIXED NUTS ABC-1977 – (not to be confused with MIXED NUTS -- one of the worst movies of all time) The lives and hilarious misadventures of the doctors and psychiatric patients of a mental institution.
MR. AND MRS. DRACULA ABC-1980, 1981 -- The Dracula family moves to a New York apartment. In the second version they live in the South Bronx. Okay, now that makes sense.
SGT. T.K. YU NBC-1979 – Korean stand-up comic Johnny Yune is a Korean LAPD detective/stand-up comic. (This pilot was in competition with one of ours, about a guy-girl comedy team. And neither got on the schedule. Instead, NBC picked up PINK LADY AND JEFF, a comedy-variety show starring a stand-up comic and Japanese girl group who couldn’t speak English. Sometimes the most absurd pilot gets on the air.)
Tomorrow: More pilots include one with Alan Alda raising an invisible baby and Sonny Bono fighting crime. You're gonna wanna be here!